Although Temple University women’s basketball (12-14, 7-8 The American Athletic Conference) forced Monday night’s game into overtime, they couldn’t contain Southern Methodist University (13-12, 7-6 The American) in the extra period, leading to a 65-61 loss at McGonigle Hall.
“We knew coming in that we had to win,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “We’ve been sitting in this position for a while now with multiple games, knowing that in order for us to secure fourth place, we had to win, so everyone knew what was on the line.”
With one minute and four seconds remaining in the first quarter, Owls’ freshman guard Tiarra East scored a fast break layup off a turnover, pulling the score to 19-16. The Owls ended the first leading 19-17.
Temple went on a four-minute scoring drought to open the second quarter, allowing the Mustangs to go on an 8-0 run and take a 25-19 lead.
Owls’ graduate student forward Mia Davis made key shots down low throughout the game. With two minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the first half, she made a contested layup in the paint while being double-teamed, bringing the score to 29-24.
Heading into halftime, Temple trailed 29-25.
Coming out of the half, the Mustangs continued pushing the Owls to the perimeter, forcing them to take 3-point shots.
The Mustangs also focused on containing Davis, hoping to get her into foul trouble. Their efforts proved successful – Davis had three fouls by the third quarter, which limited her playing time.
A shot by Davis down low turned into a 3-point play after a foul was called against the Mustangs with just four minutes remaining in the third quarter. The free throw tied the game 34-34 and the teams remained tied at the end of the third quarter with a score of 43-43.
Both teams headed into the fourth quarter hungry for a win and the fourth place spot in the American Athletic Conference standings.
With eight minutes and 59 seconds left, freshman guard Aniya Gourdine made a huge 3-pointer, giving the Owls a 46-45 lead. After two free throws from Davis, Gourdine made another 3-pointer three minutes later, allowing the Owls to extend their lead to 51-47.
“Being able to step up and make shots, but more importantly, making sure we’re getting shots at the basket,” Cardoza said. “I felt like we needed to get into our offense a little quicker.”
As the fourth quarter came to a close, both teams were tied 53-53, forcing overtime. After the Mustangs won the tipoff, they made a quick basket, setting the tone for the rest of overtime.
Davis hit a 3-pointer with three minutes left to help narrow the Owls’ deficit to just 57-56, and then a 3-pointer by freshman guard Jasha Clinton tied the game to 59-59.
The Owls fell short after Mustangs redshirt-senior forward Savannah Wilkinson made a jumper from the paint, followed by two successful free throws.
“We’re just going to have to be better,” Cardoza said. “Take care of the basketball first off. We just have to make sure we do something different, and overall, we just need to be better defensively.”
The loss dropped the Owls to sixth in the AAC conference standings with one game remaining on their schedule. They’ll compete against the Mustangs again on March 2 at 8 p.m. in Dallas, Texas, to close out the season.